University of Southern California
USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

Women's Cancers Program

The Women’s Cancers Program of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCCC) is a formal, focused transdisciplinary research program devoted to cancers of the breast and female reproductive tract. The scientific aims of the program are to: 1) test hypotheses of breast and gynecologic cancer etiology and pathogenesis with an emphasis on diverse racial-ethnic groups within Los Angeles County; 2) formulate and assess strategies for the prevention of women’s cancers; 3) identify differences in women’s cancer mortality among racial-ethnic groups of Los Angeles County and formulate strategies to lower mortality among all groups; 4) characterize molecular alterations in women’s cancers with a focus on potential clinical utility; and 5) develop and/or evaluate novel therapies for women’s cancers. The Women’s Cancers Program takes advantage of the extraordinary racial-ethnic diversity among the 10 million residents of Los Angeles County served by the NCCC. Our goal is to understand the basis of differences in breast and gynecologic cancer incidence, mortality and survival among well represented ethnic groups (African-Americans, Latinas, Japanese, Chinese, Filipinas, Koreans and non-Latina whites). We have a multifaceted approach involving epidemiology, prevention and behavioral scientists, cell biologists and molecular geneticists, and radiation, surgical and medical oncologists. Numerous resources are used to achieve this goal. These include the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance Program, a SEER registry; a large registry of breast cancer in twins; dietary, lifestyle and genetic data from well-characterized large ethnically diverse cohorts including the Multiethnic Cohort Study; the California Teachers Study, a diverse clinical population seen at NCCC affiliated hospitals, and the Lee Breast Center and Lynne Cohen Preventive Care Clinic, linked to a large tumor and other biological sample repository. The Program was awarded a Breast Cancer Center of Excellence award by the Department of Defense during the last funding cycle. Recruitment to clinical trials has been more focused, with increased enrollment in the last year. The Program has been strengthened by the recruitment of Dr. Debasish Tripathy, Co-Leader of the Program, and Dr. Stephen Sener, Chief of Surgical Oncology, as well as Dr. Yvonne Lin-Liu, gynecologic oncologist. Four members of the Women’s Cancers Program hold endowed Chairs in the NCCC. The 22 members of the Program are from seven academic departments and have published 382 papers during the funding period, 34% involving intra-programmatic and 44% inter-programmatic collaboration. The Program is supported by $4.9 million of direct costs in peer-reviewed support.